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Engaging Introductory Philosophy Students Through Overarching Question Assignments Erica Lucast Stonestreet College of St. Benedict | St. John’s University.

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Presentation on theme: "Engaging Introductory Philosophy Students Through Overarching Question Assignments Erica Lucast Stonestreet College of St. Benedict | St. John’s University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Engaging Introductory Philosophy Students Through Overarching Question Assignments Erica Lucast Stonestreet College of St. Benedict | St. John’s University

2 Introductions & Interests

3 Motivations Hard to work from text to motivations Survey courses can seem uncohesive Students expect to learn about philosophy

4 The Assignment: Overview 1.Answer the question based on what you know now. 2.Answer the question again, in dialogue with our texts and discussions.

5 Exercise What are the requirements for a distinctively human life? How about a meaningful human life? Are these the same thing?

6 Syllabus design Read a variety of texts that can be seen as contributions toward answering the question Bicentennial Man, Tolstoy, Camus, Wolf, Plato

7 Details: The Unit Essay 1.Present and explain a philosophical problem based on the OAQs. 2.Explain in some detail the ways thinkers have thought about this problem. 3.Give your own take on the problem, supported by reasons.

8 Strengths Requires a certain amount of metacognition, which helps them to notice what they’ve learned Requires mastery of texts Provides practice with things like charitable reading, articulating others’ positions, evaluating and criticizing arguments, and articulating their own ideas

9 Strengths Gives the students a sense of engagement with the larger conversation about things that matter Makes the architecture of the course and the purpose of each unit clear to them Gives them a toehold for wonder and ownership of the material because it begins with their own thinking

10 Pitfalls Some students just threw some quotes into their original essay Many didn’t display any understanding of what was at stake Few pitted texts against one another and wrestled with opposing answers

11 Remedies Clear and detailed instructions Sharp questions More intentional discussion of what’s at stake More intentional teaching of the skills involved

12 Discussion


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